Where to start after playing two hours of The Last of Us Part 2? How exactly to talk about a sequel to one of the last decade’s most beloved games – if not the most beloved – without spoiling a story beat that’s best experienced first-hand, or sharing too much? By now, you’ll surely know the set-up: Ellie has been shifted into the central role, seeking revenge after some horrendous, as-yet-undisclosed incident. There is violence – lots of it – and there are moments of downbeat beauty in its exploration of love and hate and how the two play against and into each other.
And there is a game that feels, at the outset, very much like its predecessor. As it probably should. This is a sequel that finds itself in a peculiar predicament for a video game: as the follow-up to a tale so beloved, this was never going to be about putting brash new features on the back of the box, and more about staying true to a world and characters so many are invested in.
But if we’re going to start anywhere when talking about two hours spent with The Last of Us Part 2, it may as well be the dogs. If this wasn’t the follow-up to one of gaming’s most sombre blockbusters, it’s exactly what I’d suggest to put on the back of the box to sell this sequel, because the dogs change everything.